Knowing or thinking that you know someone is a victim of abuse doesn’t mean you know how to help them. It can be confusing to see someone you care about to stay in a dangerous situation. Don’t let that stop you from trying to speak up. Sometimes people need to hear the truth.
Those who are abused often feel isolated. They are confused and scared and don’t feel like they can reach out. They might even think it is their fault.
There are ways to support those who may suffer from domestic violence. It is essential to learn and to talk about these ways, so you know how to approach them in the best way. Here are some ideas and tips to keep in mind.
Don’t try to talk to a victim about it if you’re going to accuse them or be angry. Make sure you are calm when you approach the subject. Be willing to hear what they have to say. Most important of all, make time for them.
The victim may not want to reach out right away. But if you answer when they call they will learn, they can trust you, and you mean what you say. If they start to talk to you about all of their problems, listen to the whole story, and be ready to wait it out.
It is important again to mention not to accuse the victim. Start it out with concerns about the victim, not accusations to their abuser. Tell them you’ve noticed a change in their personality or physical state. Ask them questions.
If they have started being quieter or seems like they’re hiding bruises, tell them that. Express concern and let them know you are there to listen and help.
The victim might already be worried about judgment. They might not want you to know because they are still with their abuser. Don’t listen if you’re just going to offer advice or tell them what to do before they even finish.
Asking questions is fine, but they need to get the story out. Don’t make them feel like they have to explain their own actions or responses. You might be the first person who is told these things.
Domestic violence comes in more than a physical form. It can be verbal abuse and behavior that is meant to control the victim. Don’t tell the victim that you can’t believe their abuser did that, or that they seemed nice when you talked to them.
Don’t make them feel as if they might not be believed. Tell them that you believe them and that they don’t deserve the violence, that it is not their fault. They need to hear this.
The victim might possibly not think they have the right to how they feel. This can be due to abusers tactics. They might make the victim think it’s their fault or not that bad.
So make sure you express that it is okay to be confused too and to feel a mixture of emotions. It can be hard for a victim to break the cycle because it ends up feeling so normal to them. Let them know how they feel is valid.